Working from home
Published by Phil Morgan on Friday, May 18th, 2012 at 16:48 pm
The current furore about ‘the heart of government working intermittently’ because civil servants based in London can work flexibly during the gridlock of the Olympics shows a bizarre mix of progress and prejudice.
I was once interviewed for a job in the Civil Service managing a team of high calibre professionals who were mostly home based with a significant amount of travel. Quite reasonably I was asked how I would manage these staff.
Quite reasonably I said I would treat them as mature professionals, focus on their outcomes and not check up on their precise movements. Big mistake! I didn’t get the job. During the feedback I was told that what was wanted was someone who was going to clamp down on these Pimms sniffing reprobates and treating them as adults was not what was wanted!!
Since then I’ve managed home workers and overseen the transfer of office based staff to home working in the TSA – saving substantial sums of money - and finally gone through the process of becoming home based myself. I now have a 4 second to work journey when not travelling to see clients. I miss, in every sense of the work, office politics. When I work from offices I am quickly aware of the very different quality of working space available to office based staff.
Of course there are some pitfalls and I would recommend to anyone trying to set some clear parameters around both space and time. I’d also suggest buddying arrangements as we did successfully in the TSA. I’m pleased that the Civil Service has finally grown up. I’d like to see more home working with a resulting saving in office costs.
However the idea that the country will grind to a halt because of some limited flexible working is nonsense and reflects an attitude that you have to be in an office to do productive work. With broadband, dongles and mobiles can we try different ways of working? And, if you really don’t trust us home based workers to actually work – how about monitoring what we do, rather than the time spent sat at desks?
This article was written on a balcony overlooking Salford Quays in the sunshine but sadly without the aid of Pimms.
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